We recently caught up with master jeweler, Thomas Dailing, to see what he’s been up to since his impressive win of the 2008 Saul Bell Design Award. His grand prize winning piece, “Nautilus,” wowed the judges and attendees alike with its brilliant use of a white gold, parabolic reflecting dish that transforms the piece as your angle of view changes.
Originally created on the drafting table over the course of two years, “Nautilus” featured a 3.76 ct., faceted red tourmaline Phantom Spinner™ (cut by friend and mentor Richard Homer) set in a semi-bezel cast from a hand-carved wax model that spiraled outward to the edge of the pendant. The piece was fabricated from both 18K yellow and 14K white gold. It included a bezel-set .03-ct. round diamond held in a white gold tube that passes through the tourmaline. The fifth version of “Nautilus” is in the Smithsonian!
These days Tom says he’s “busy as all get out!” with commissioned pieces, developing new ideas and collecting new awards. Tom shared that he’s gotten better at envisioning his new creations—now (instead of two years at a drafting table) he’s perfecting them over a much shorter period. He describes himself as the “classic daydreamer” who, because he’s already worked through the design concept in his head, has no fear when it comes to creating.
Tom is currently focusing on ring designs in part because of the challenges involved. “With pendants you can pretty much do whatever you want, but rings have to fit the finger, be comfortable and ergonomic, and still be beautiful,” he shared. Tom decided that men’s jewelry is in need of an update and has begun a new line for gentlemen.
Tom combines his innate jewelry making skills with a finely tuned sense of engineering, sculpture and architecture to create his amazing hand-carved/hand-made pieces. And since he absolutely loves the creative process, each day is an exciting adventure of experimentation and discovery. Tom says, “I want to habitually challenge my abilities!”
So how are you challenging your abilities? Have you designed a piece for the Saul Bell Design Award?